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Samhain's Zergwatch

Samhain's Zergwatch is a blog that started in 2006 on a different gaming community server and has since evolved into www.zergwatch.com, a place to gather my twisted thoughts on the whole mess. Explore the oozing underbelly of gaming with me.

Author: zergwatch

5 reasons Age of Conan feels like Vanguard

Posted by zergwatch Friday April 25 2008 at 10:11AM
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5.  Vanguard had a hardcore following of Vanboys who would give their life in defense of the vision.   After all the support this following had given Sigil and Brad McQuaid, they were shafted on at least one or two occasions.      Age of Conan has a loyal following of closed beta testers who have been shafted by Funcom's decision to partner with File Planet in a paid lottery system to get "Open" beta keys.

4.  Late in development, Sigil started using financial motives for the creative and technical decision making process.    Late in development, Funcom started using financial excuses for the methods of digitial distribution for Open Beta and Early Release.

3.  Towards the end of technical beta and well into open beta, many game breaking bugs were reported to Sigil which were ignored and subsequently were present in live release which contributed to the eventual downfall of the game.    In the AoC PVP beta, game breaking bugs such as wall hacking, dropping through the world and other similar bugs to Vanguard appeared.   Many fans report that they had told Funcom about these bugs long before the PVP weekend, but the bugs were not fixed before opening the game to the masses.

2.  Vanguard had an intellectual vision that did not match the actual product.   The "Vision" was always present in marketing and hype, but never materialized in the game and the vision often got in the way of the actual game itself.     Age of Conan's has a vision to stay true to the lore of Conan.   The vision of blood, guts, gore and boobs seems to take precedence over technical issues and gameplay.

1. Prior to Vanguard's release, everyone knew the game was not ready.  When the story broke that Sigil was in deep shit financially , Sigilhad to release the game prematurely at all costs in Kamikazee like fashion.   There are rumblings across message boards that Age of Conan does not appear to be a product ready to release in less than 30 days.  There has also been hints and undertones that  the current release date for Age of Conan cannot be pushed back or delayed  because of financial / investor concerns.  

While I'm not saying AoC is doomed like Vanguard, I am saying that there are some striking similarities, though not as drastic and apparent as they were in Vanguard.   

It will be fun to see how things transpire over the next few weeks before release.  Will Funcom be the first MMO publisher to attempt to mend their relationship with t he community or will they continue to stand on the higher ground as many mmorpg developers before them have stood, defiantly shunning what the industry calls... The Vocal Minority.

Age of Conan Early Access will cost you $5

Posted by zergwatch Sunday April 20 2008 at 10:07PM
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Yep, either this is a typo or Funcom (or gamespot) has joined the ranks of other greedy and money hungry MMO publishers looking to make an extra buck up front.  For $5, you get early access to Age of Conan, even though you shelled out $49.95 already for the game, something that usually comes for FREE with pre-orders of MMORPG's.  You do get 10 days of additional time, but this move seems unprecedented.

 

Here's the gamespot disclaimer:

 

3-Day Early Access Program

With your pre-order Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures, you will be able to participate in the 3-day Early Access Program. Early access period starts on May 17, 3 days before the commercial release on May 20, 2008. You may begin downloading the game client files and installing as early as May 14. With early access, there is a nominal fee of $5, which covers the cost of the download and includes 10 days of additional game time."

 
This tidbit comes way of Massively.Com

 

 

Disney makes kids cry

Posted by zergwatch Friday April 18 2008 at 5:35PM
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I'm not one for supporting a cause or signing petitions, but when it comes to a company like Disney creating an MMOG, leaving it up for 3 years then yanking it out of the hands of the addicted kids and moms, it's kinda f'd up.

When MMO's get their plugs pulled, they usually deserve it.   Usually I  "lol" at the petitions and tell those who have been forced to go cold turkey to just go in a corner and cry a river.

I never heard of Disney's VMK until the other day, but it just seems messed up that Disney would commit such douchebaggery in an attempt to get all their subscribers into the newer and updated services.

Here's the link for the press release: http://www.zergwatch.com/News-964/Disney039s-attempt-to-shut-down-MMORPG-met-with-resistance.html

Here's the link for the petition: http://www.petitiononline.com/07171955/petition.html

I know, I know petitions fail, but wtf its for the kids and soccer moms.

Age of Conan Q&A : Boobs, Breakdowns and Breaking NDA's

Posted by zergwatch Monday April 14 2008 at 10:11PM
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As the launch of Funcom's Age of Conan looms over the horizon and there's really nothing exciting to shit talk in the MMO genre at this time. I figured it would be a good time to reach out to Jason "Athelan" Stone , Game Designer for Age of Conan and an awesomely accessible gentleman for the low budget and unkown gaming website, to get into his head to find out about things the things that really intrigue me about Age of Conan. 

Everyone wants to know everything they can about Age of Conan before the launch such as PVP mechanics, system requirements, DirectX 10 support, how does shield blocking work, when is open beta and should I buy the pre-order with the Mammoth or the Rhino, but I'm not the kind of guy who wastes time investigating things that will be clearly identified in the game manual next month.

If you're interested in reading all that shit for the 15th time with a different twist on the same topic, you're out of luck.  What I want to talk about is titties, sex, Arnold Schwarzenegger, MMO's failing at launch, breaking NDA's, more titties and to find out which Funcom employee is voted most likely to have a nervous breakdown when the game comes out this May. 

While I'm still personally on the fence about whether or not I'll be playing Age of Conan for the long haul because new MMO's have in general been a let down for quite some time, I will definitely be buying the game and checking it out because while not "Revolutionary or Next-Gen", to use the token industry buzzwords, it does things that have not been done before, at least with any overwhelming success.  Most importantly, boobs.. and sex.. blood and violence.. you know, the things that make video games blockbuster hits.  I also figure that if I could buy Vanguard and play it for a month before quitting, it only goes uphill from there.

The whole thing doesn't fit here, sorry
Age of Conan Interview

Why do MMORPG publishers REALLY hate the Chinese Gold Farmer?

Posted by zergwatch Friday April 11 2008 at 5:30PM
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In their press release and community announcements, MMORPG publishers tell us to beware of the Chinese Gold Farmer. Ok first, people always give me shit about saying things like Chinese Gold Farmer and Uncle Li when talking about gold farmers. Until somebody can prove otherwise, most gold farming is done in China and the most popular Chinese surname is Li, so piss off unless you're arguing that most of them are not uncles.

Anyway, company bulletins tell us that the evil Chinese gold farmers are out to hack your accounts, steal your credit cards, ruin their merchant status or completely and utterly destroy the game economy and that to protect the game they will ban both you and Uncle Li if they catch you. Be realistic, if you do happen to buy from those companies and you're not buying from a well established company like IGE, then you deserve to have all that stuff done to you. The more prominent companies would not remain in business if they were stealing information and hacking accounts left and right.

The truth behind the matter might have something to do with the integrity of the in game economy, but the most prominent reason they are so aggressive with gold farmers is because somebody else is making money where they could be making it. It goes beyond gold farming. Look at Blizzard trying to cash in on WoW glider revenue. They don't care about the program, they care that somebody else is making a buck and Vinny TwoFingers didn't deliver a brown envelope to them. They are not suing to just end WoWGlider, they want a piece of the WoW Glider pie. If it was a lawsuit in defense of righteousnous, legal compensation and a cease and desist would have sufficed because its doubtful that Blizzard will ever be able to factually prove that the program hurt such a thriving business enterprise. Instead, Blizzard wants to turn a buck on the case.

If the companies were so worried about games being tainted or economies being ruined, why are so many performing research on and developing their own publisher backed RMT services?

It's because they realize a money train when they see one. While their own revenue projections and subscriber base flounders, they see these foreign sweatshops raking in the cash hand over fist. SOE currently offers Station Exchange servers which facilitate offline item purchases between players in which SOE takes a small cut of each transation. Other companies are experimenting with RMT.


Most MMORPG's already have RMT transactions in the form of collector's editions. When you buy a collector's edition you are already engaging in a RMT for an in game item, but its ok, because the publisher gets your extra $20-50 for that pet, garment or weapon you paid for.

There aren't that many mainstream MMORPG's offering RMT services at this point, but the seeds have been planted and as MMO publishers continue to fail to meet their financial projections and realize that their half assed hack of an MMORPG is not going to be the next World of Warcraft, we might see a more aggressive trend towards publisher backed RMT services either on top of subscription based MMORPG's or to fun free to play MMORPG's.

A futile attempt to remain in the top 10 blogs

Posted by zergwatch Tuesday April 8 2008 at 4:44PM
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I've slacked off on the blog this past week and saw my blog go from #2 to #9.  The main reason of course is the "What have you done for me today?" effect.    While I enjoy writing blogs here at MMORPG, I also have a real job.  I also have a 2nd real job which is the actual Zergwatch Website.

Unfortunately, I have been writing my usual daily articles, but there just hasn't been anything fucked up happening in MMORPG's lately.   In fact.. There hasn't been a damn thing happening at all and I could barely write a sentence about how Maplestory fucked their users last week with the patch.. becaue its a game nobody gives a crap about.

I'm hoping as we move closer to AoC launch, there will be lots of material.  I suppose I could have condemned NCSoft for giving the green light on CoH advertising.  The truth is, I've been busy with the website as we near our April 15th Launch Date and most of the fucked up shit has been happening outside the MMORPG space and it wouldn't really be appropriate to post my non-mmorpg articles here on this site.  

MMORPG is my 2nd favorite website... Ok Maybe 3rd or 4th. But shit.. its up there ok.  Once the MMO industry gets some sort of pulse or signs of life to give me something to write about I'll be all over it like a Korean MMO on Grinding.

Here's some recent non-MMORPG articles I've written since my last blog entry here:

5 Questions you need to ask yourself before buying Wii Fit
In game advertising coming to Habbo Hotel
The Daily Douchebag: Harve L. Johnson kills 2 year old with game controller
Prison guard plays games and texts while inmates kill eachother
The Daily Douchebag: WoW player sues IGE <- I guess that was an MMO entry :(
4 Great Products for the Eldery Wii Player
Man dies mining gold from his Dell

I'm still looking for a new Korean MMORPG beta to tear into. Please give suggestions

Mabinogi MMO Review

Posted by zergwatch Tuesday April 1 2008 at 12:51AM
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I was drawn to Mabinogi out of curiosity. Although the name Mabinogi sounds as if the game comes to us right off the shelves of EB Games Japan, Mabinogi is actually a collection of Welsh and Celtic  tales which have nothing to do with any Asian cultures.

A western mythology based MMORPG is an all around good idea. I'm not sure about putting it into an anime setting. The world of Mabinogi runs on on what appears to be a somewhat late model 3D engine. The characters are 3D characters with a 2D anime style texturing, complete with blocky highlighted outlines around them.

Mabinogi uses a traditional free to play RMT revenue based system. With free access, you get 1 character card (character slot) with a limited set of customizable features. The access to premium options begins with character creation. Only a certain number of cosmetic features are available for free play, but you can upgrade your account to have more customizations which really aren't that much different from the standard set.

At character creation, you can also set your avatar's age. It was a bit confusing at first because the only cue the game gave about what age does was a warning that it is harder to play younger characters.

The user interface was, well, unique. I'm an old Solaris / Linux admin type, so I found the old XWin style interface a bit welcoming and nostalgic. I'm not quite sure what sort of reception this interface will receive from a North American population born and raised on Windows 95, XP and Vista. One UI disappointment was the lack of customizable key mappings as I'm also an FPS/MMO WASD and Arrow Key movement kinda guy.

This is the part of the review where I normally tear apart the poor infamous Asian MMORPG that just beached itself upon our medical waste filled sandy beaches in a rickety old junk, aspiring to be the next Asian crossover wonder.

I can't bring myself to do that. Mabinogi is fun in an old Commodore-64 demo scene sort of way. It's not that great. It's also not terrible. Most importantly, it's not a cut, paste and translate sort of game. There's lots of interesting features in the game. As you level up, you can choose any skill path you want. Another ingenious idea in Mabinogi is rebirthing. With rebirthing, you can create a new level 1 character off the skill and ability points of your main character. This allows players to explore different character development skills without have to acquire ability points all over again.

Another neat feature in the game is eating. In most MMORPG's you can guzzle down meats, juices and ales at will. In Mabinogi, characters will gain and lose weight depending on the foods they eat. If you eat fatty foods, you become a fat ass. Eat healthy, and you can maintain that chiseled MMORPG physique we are all so used to seeing.

When you look past the sub par interface, the over anime-ization of the character models, late model graphics engine and click to move interface, there's something charming and unique with the game. The game offers a lot more socialization options than our run of the mill turn of the century WoW clones.  Also, killing little cute and cuddly furry animals never gets old.

Mabinogi's entry into the North American market nearly 4 years after its release overseas, probably will not get much attention or recognition here in the U.S. Unlike every other Korean crossover I've tried, aside from Requiem: Bloodymare, Mabinogi offers the user more than just mob grinding and loot whoring. It wasn't a terrible experience. The most redeeming quality of Mabinogi is its ability to relive MMORPG's of old, a chance to say "Gee, I wish more mainstream MMORPG's had stuff like this in them."